Mindfulness: 5 Ways to Overcome Barriers of Effective Communication By Debbie Lyn Toomey

 

Mindfulness: 5 Ways to Overcome Barriers of Effective Communication

By Debbie Lyn Toomey

What?

Huh?

What did you say?

These questions are what my aging parents ask me when I am talking to them. My mother, a three-time cancer survivor, lost most of her hearing from the side-effects of the chemotherapy, and my father lost his from aging. I have to be mindful when I talk with them so that they are able to hear me. That said, what if you are trying to converse with someone who has great hearing but who is not fully listening to you? Don’t take it personally. It’s not you. Nowadays, there are many obstacles that get in the way of effective communication. Here are three noteworthy barriers to consider and five solutions to help you become more successful at verbal communication.

Screen Time

The more you understand the about barriers, the more you will be able to use the right skill to enhance your relationships and increase your success. According to a Nielsen report(2016), the average American spends almost half the day on a screen. To be exact, an average US adult devotes about 10 hours and 39 minutes a day consuming media. This number is expected to increase. Whether it be a phone screen, computer screen, or television screen, it is still something that people compete with to get the undivided attention of others.

Age of Distraction

Another barrier is our decreasing attention span. More and more people are taking medications to help with their ability to “focus.” Why? Because we are living in the age of distraction. Distraction from technology that we have for personal use and professional use. In 2015, Time magazine wrote an article about Microsoft’s report on attention span. It was an article that caught the attention of the world showing that a goldfish has a longer attention span than the average human. It stated that the attention span of an average human has decreased to eight seconds mainly due to the widespread use of smartphones.

Pet vs. Master

While it might sound comical at first to have a simple house pet win over its master, the truth is not funny! In the 2015 Microsoft report, a goldfish was able to sustain its attention for 9 seconds. One second more than its highly-evolved competitor. Moreover, this report shared that our attention span has deteriorated from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds today. 2000 was around the time of the mobile technology revolution.

CPA

Another cause for the impaired communication is our need to stay in the know of what is going on all the time. This is what Linda Stone in 1998 coined continuous partial attention (CPA). Unlike the heralded act of multi-tasking where we are trying to do more than one activity at the same time to be more efficient, CPA relies on the need to not want to miss anything. This need to not miss out on any new connection or news makes us feel as though we must be constantly connected to media. According to Stone, CPA makes us feel alive when we are connected and plugged in. CPA is another barrier that inhibits our ability to fully listen and engage with another person.

Still There?

I hope I haven’t lost you yet. Are you still reading this article? If you are, thank you! Because I have 5 solutions to help you overcome these barriers so that you can have more effective communication and connection with people in your life. Some might think that what I am about to share are all common-sense-solutions. They are right! But as I mentioned in my book, The Happiness Result. More time, More health, More love, More success, common sense is not so common these days.

5 Ways

The key to all of these solutions is mindfulness. The more we create purposeful actions toward better communication, the better our interactions will be. The 5 ways for better communication are:

1. Mobile device: Put your mobile device away when you are about to talk with someone. PERIOD.

2. Eye contact: When you are talking with someone, make sustained eye contact with the individuals for about 3-5 seconds. Eye contact, according to James Wirth, social psychologist, provide us with some of the strongest information from social interactions. Be mindful and make eye contact.

3. Listen: Be silent when the other person is talking with you. Avoid interruptions like giving your opinions right away. Use this silent time to actively and empathically listen to what your mind and heart are telling you. Listen to the words being said and watch his/her body language (active listening) and try to pick up on his/her emotions (empathetic listening). Shut up and listen up.

4. Summarize: Once the individual is done speaking, rephrase or summarize what you heard. This will ensure that you fully understood the content of the conversation and show the individual that you were engaged with the conversation. Show you care and summarize.

5. Concise: Remember you have only 8 seconds to captivate someone’s attention. Therefore, speak clearly and concisely. The clearer you are expressing yourself, the less likely a misunderstanding and misinterpretation will happen. This is one of the basic elements of being a competent communicator. Get to the point.

Keep Practicing

Next time you feel that you are not being heard or people are not listening to you, be mindful of the common obstacles that stand in the way of communication in this age of distraction. Try the 5 mindfulness solutions that I shared with you and above all else, keep practicing. Effective communication and mindful listening are skills. They require practice in order for you to master them.

To learn more ways to add more time, more health, more love, and more success in your life, get a copy of my book, The Happiness Result. It will give you 7 awesome skills to live your best life. Click here to get the book www.TheHappinessResult.com.

50 Shades of Pink: Learn 3 Winning Ways to Make Hard Decisions Easier

Hot pink.

Wild strawberry.

Deep pink.

Oh, MY!

These where just three of the many shades of pink I was teased with yesterday as I waited to get my long-awaited manicure and pedicure. Since it’s been many years since I pampered my nailbeds, I wanted to pick the perfect shade of pink that will make the experience amazing.

Minutes Later

As I sat on the chair waiting for my turn, I was told to look at the different array of colors to choose. Because I’ve already decided on the color pink, I immediately discounted other colors that were not pink, since I thought it would make it easier for me. I was surprised 30 minutes later when it was time to pick my color that I still could not make up my mind because there were over 50 shades of pink to pick from!

Pink Enough

Even though I had a half an hour looking over dozens of shades of pink, I still could not make up my mind. After a while, I started laughing at my inability to make a choice fearing it wouldn’t be the pink for me. The perplexed and patient nail technician started to give me advice.

“No.” she said, “that’s too light for you skin.”

“No. That’s too dark.”

“I like this one.” She said as she pointed to pink color number 27.

Tyranny of Choice

What was supposed to be an hour of peace and pampering, became a moment of fear of making a mistake. In my mind, I didn’t want to make the wrong choice and pay for it in more ways than one. This is an example of the tyranny of choice that Barry Schwartz has discovered in his research. According to this researcher, while having some choices can make our lives better, there can be a psychologically paradoxical effect when we have too many choices.

Barry Schwartz’s research states that having too many choices can be linked to unhappiness. Moreover, your decision-making personality can lead to regret and depression. There are two basic personalities according to his study. There are the “maximizers” who need to research and contemplate their decision to death in order to make sure their choice was the perfect one. On the other hand, there are the “satisficers” who easily find and make their decisions based on their standards and needs. The “maximizers” tend to waste a lot of time and gain little happiness while the “satisficers” are able to go about their lives more efficiently and with more enjoyment.

Which one are you?

Knowing which one you are will help you with your decision making. The more you are aware of your tendencies to more you can work with them.

3 Winning Ways

While it’s good to have choices, it doesn’t have to be a time-wasting and overwhelming ordeal. Here are three winning ways to make hard decisions easier and better for you.

1. Choose your battle. Realize that not all choices need to be scrutinized under the microscope. This will give you more control over your decision-making and allow you to enjoy the situation.

2. Prepare a game-plan. Create a decision-making plan that has wiggle room for you to be satisfied. Have plan A, B, and C that you will be happy with.

3. Limit your time. Time yourself. Sometimes, the best decisions are made when little time is at hand because it causes us to focus on what is truly important.

Pretty in Pink

Next time you find yourself in a bind and can’t decide what you want, try these three suggestions, so you can come out feeling good about yourself. If you’re wondering about which pink shade I decided to go with for my nails, I chose the one that the nail technician suggested – number 27. Why? It was pink, and the basic color I wanted in the first place. It made me happy. I left the nail salon with a smile on my face and thinking about the next color I want to try.

More Happiness

Looking for additonal ways to gain more happiness in your life? Get my book, The Happiness Result, More time, More health, More love, More success. It could be the best choice you make today. Click here to get the book, http://thehappinessresult.com/

Mindful Moment

Are you becoming more and more absentminded lately?

Multitasking

My answer is “yes.” This has become a busy and fast paced world, and many of us have taken on a habit juggling and struggling. According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, when we are multitasking, we are paying attention only partially from one task to another. A study conducted on multitasking while driving showed that the driver’s attention decreased by 37% when he/she listened to sentences while driving. How many times have we listened to sentences either from the radio or another person in the car? This important study shows that multitasking is not as efficient or safe as we once thought it was.

Les Miserable

Multitasking spreads our energy thin. Chronically multitasking can make us feel overwhelmed, out of control, and overly tired. When this happens, concentration and clarity become a challenge. A negative ripple effect of unhealthy habits arise such as mindlessly eating comfort food in front of the TV to “veg-out,” consuming endless cans of high energy drinks in order to “pull an all-nighter,” and a taking anti-anxiety medications to counteract the guilt and worries of not getting enough done.

While some people thrive under this fast-paced and demanding lifestyle, their mind and body will eventually show signs of “wear and tear” in the form of chest pain, depression, obesity, gastric reflux, etc.  There is good news! With mindful awareness, we can turn this misery into magnificence.

Mindful Moments

I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t tell you that I don’t multitask—the truth is I still multitask. But after many years of making mistakes that cost me more time to correct, I’ve decided to become more purposeful in my multitasking. I’ve learned to only do it when doing simple tasks. And it works. While it did take some time for me to get rid of the temptation to multitask, the results have been profound. I went from multitasking everything to multitasking with some things.  I made mindful choices that made my day more enjoyable and effective.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness in a nutshell is purposefully paying attention and becoming aware of what you are doing at that very moment. It’s a way of noticing (without judgment) the thoughts in your mind and emotions that you are feeling. Mindfulness also provides a time, however short it may be, to quiet our mental chatter. The more we apply this simple practice, the more we will feel calm, confident, and in control in the midst of our busy day.

Try This

Here’s a mindful practice that will help you begin to cultivate this positive habit – learn to do less and get more done. I call it Mindful Moment: Take 5 & Take a Break

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Take a deep breath.
  3. Imagine you are in your special place.
  4. Let go of your tension.
  5. Enjoy.

I recommend that you do this practice for about 5 – 10 minutes a day in order to feel your tension release. The more you release and let go of you stress the more you will be able to make mindful choices towards a healthier and happier day.

Gratitude & Mindfulness Experience. More on the program


Need Help?

Contact us for more support in cultivating mindfulness in your life. Email us at info@ultimatehealingjourney.com to begin your journey towards health and happiness. You don’t have to do this alone. We are here to guide you towards your highest and best goals.

Easy Motivation Tip

Have you ever had a day off that you filled with lots of activities?

I recently had one of those days and I had such a fantastic time doing everything on my list, including a task that I have been putting off for the last 3 weeks.  That task was switching my winter wardrobe to my summer one. I don’t know what it was about this particular task, but I always feel like I have to be in the right mood to do it, otherwise I’ll be spending half the day trying on all the clothes, losing track of time and feeling guilty for not making any progress.

On my day off, I challenged myself to get as many things checked off my list and completed as possible. And that was exactly what I did. I checked everything off including my long awaited wardrobe switch that I had been neglecting.


WOOP

Here’s what I did. I applied Dr. Gabrielle Oettingen’s technique called WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan.)  Dr. Oettingen’s and her fellow researchers found that when positive plans are visualized along with the obstacles, people are more likely to become motivated to take action towards the direction of their goals. They found that positive visualization was not enough and that adding the perceived obstacles into this equation allows the person to become more prepared to overcome the obstacles they felt were keeping them from going forward.

woop

I did it!

Here’s how I applied WOOP to help me tackle my wardrobe switching task.

  1. I determined my “wish.” It was to switch my winter wardrobe over to my summer wardrobe. I visualized what it would be like when it was done.
  2. My “outcome” was to have my favorite summer clothes ready to wear and to donate a bag of clothes that I hadn’t worn in a long time. I also visualized what this would look like and got very excited about it.
  3. My “obstacle” was lack of time. I challenged myself and decided to make it easier and fun for me in order to make the task less monumental.
  4. My “plan” was to make a game out of it. I decided to just spend 1 hour doing this and to try to get as many clothes donated as possible during that time. I did this so that I was less likely to try on clothes after clothes after clothes and lose track of time.

I decided to give it a go and it worked! Not only did I get motivated into doing this seasonal task, I had fun doing it.  It felt good knowing I was doing something that I’ve been meaning to do, and lastly I was able to get 2 bags of clothes instead of one ready for donation.

The WOOP technique is easy and effective. Next time you just can’t get started doing something that you’ve been meaning to do, I suggest you try the WOOP technique.

 

If you feel you need extra help to reach your goals, contact me for coaching so that we can create solution-focused plans to make your dreams come true.  Email me at info@ultimatehealingjourney.com today.

 

Balancing Your Work and Home Life: Achieving Higher Enlightenment

“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” Unknown

Life Work

If you suffer from stress, depression, anxiety, or even high blood pressure, then you will understand the importance of just being able to relax. Many people try to multi-task too much in their daily lives, thinking that they can achieve more by doing so. This simply isn’t the case, and multi-tasking often leads to errors which take even more time to correct. This makes us frustrated and angry, which is often taken out on family and friends. By taking the time to relax for just a few minutes, we realize that our lives don’t revolve around how many things we can do per day, and that by simply concentrating on one thing at once, we can achieve more than we ever thought possible.

Acting Out of Character

Stress can certainly make us act out of character, especially when you’re stressed because you can’t perform an action on time or at the same time as something else. Your child may interrupt you to ask a question, to which you shout in response. This creates a negative atmosphere for everyone.

Creating a Better Balance

If you want to create a better work-home balance, take a step back and analyze the things you need to do that day. For example, if you need to do the washing and take the kids to school, find a way that you can do both without necessarily multi-tasking.  Start off the washing machine before you go in the morning, and dry them when you get back from your commute. You will have time by yourself to do the washing properly and in good time, and you will also have time to relax between loads. You’ll be doing one thing at a time, but you’ll still get the same amount done per day. This can really make a difference to your life, and by not multi-taking, you’ll find that you won’t get as stressed, meaning that you can achieve more per day!

Can you think of some simple steps right now that you can do to create more balance in your life? Start with that first thing that you think of.

If can’t think of any right now, here are 3 tips to get you started. They are:

  1. Divide and conquer: Delegate the tasks that others can do for you. Remember that you are not alone. Decide on one or two tasks that others can do easily and does not require your immediate attention. According to the July 26, 2012 Harvard Business Review article written by Amy Gallo called “Why aren’t you delegating”, even though delegating tasks is an important skill for leaders and managers, not everyone is doing it—it is underutilized. While most feel they are too busy to ask, some are not trained to think and ask the right questions to ask for help.
  2. Go the distance: Deliberately go out of your way. Many people who are too busy during the day with work and life are way too busy to exercise. The best way to get in some physical activities is by going out of your way. Purposely park in the far end corner of the parking lot and walk or use the stairs instead of the elevators. According to an article called “Exercise and Stress. Get Moving to Manage Stress” by the Mayo Clinic, any form of physical activity can help reduce stress. This reduction is caused by the release of hormones called endorphins, the very hormone that gets released when runners experience the “runner’s high” when running.
  3. Distraction: Clear off your desk, your inbox, or even the noise around you. Distraction leads to wasted time trying to get back on task which can create more feelings of stress, overwhelm, and imbalance. According the June 22, 2008 New Times article, “Fighting a War Against Distraction,” it takes almost 20 minutes to get back on track after being distracted for just one minute.

Just know that it is very possible to add more balance in your life. If you need support and coaching on ways to gain more balance in your work-life,  I can help you! See my contact page for ways to reach me.